One of my most amusing experiences during our recent Christmas break was my visit to the Apple store at Biltmore Fashion Park. The vibe at the store oozes self-conscious hipness and electricity. Nonetheless I felt confident wearing my bow tie and Christmas vest in such a place, a bit of a counter-cultural fashion choice for an Apple Land awash in jeans, t-shirts, and attitude. Jan and I of course had to first make an appointment for technical assistance, which provided time for window-shopping and a nice lunch.
We ventured there so that I could have someone check the condition of my iPod Nano. I thought the battery was not holding very long anymore and that the sound was getting a bit fuzzy. When at last my moment for technical assistance arrived, a very friendly young man greeted me. I handed him my iPod Nano, and he then typed the product ID number into a computer. He returned very quickly, holding my iPod as if he were cradling the rarest of archeological finds. With an expression of amazement and amusement, he announced to us that my trusty iPod Nano was 7(!) years old, at least three years past the life expectancy of the battery and long past the time that Apple provides service or replacement parts for such a device. I took an odd sort of pride in my old Nano as other Apple tech associates gathered around to ogle my machine in wonder and disbelief. Then I was happily directed to a sales associate, and I quickly discovered what I had been missing! I purchased my new iPod at a 10% discount, which comedians in my family suggested was due to the fact that Apple would be able to send my ancient device to the Smithsonian. The whole interchange was one of delight for all of us.
So Apple and its competitors have to change their devices frequently because of our insatiable appetite for the very best up-to-date technology. This week our faculty heard from Dr. JoAnn Deak about the latest brain research and its implications for teaching and learning. She made clear that technology is indeed a double-edged sword. The “wiring” of technological devices is evolving constantly, which opens ever new possibilities for us. Conversely, technology is changing the “wiring” in our brains- especially the brains of children and young people- and not always in positive fashion. Thus, if technology use by young people is not moderated, their brains can go haywire in various ways.
Apple Land is a fascinating and inviting place, but we spend too much time there at our peril. That is especially true for the youngest among us. They will be well served if we invite them to other wonderful lands- the lands of unstructured play, books, the performing arts, regular exercise, quality conversation, quiet and reflection, and many more.
Until next time…